Previously, I’ve written a beginner’s guide on how to setup a home network file server with HFS. In this post, I will explain further on how to allow access to HFS file sharing server with all the people around the world , which is not possible with the previous file server setup.
This guide assumes that you have followed the previous HFS file server setup guide. Additionally, I am going to assume that your computer has a local, private IP address (address numbers that starts with either 10, 172 or 192, for example: 192.168.1.3) which means that you machine is connected to the Internet via a router. However, if your private IP address differs from the above, the probability is high that you are connected directly to the Internet and your HFS server can already be accessed directly by others outside your local LAN.
A- Initial Setup Checklist
1- Make sure HFS is running and you can access your file server via another computer inside your local area network (LAN).
2- Take note of your current internal, private IP address as detected by HFS as shown in the image below. You can see that my HFS server is using the default port 80 to run.
3- You also need to know the external, public IP address of your router. Launch your web browser and access http://whatismyip.com . The address shown on the website is the public IP address of your router. Copy this address somewhere safe, you are going to need it later.
B- Setup Port Forwarding
To understand the concept of port forwarding, just imagine that there are two or three computers that are connected to the router inside your LAN but only one HFS file sharing server that is running and accessible via port 80, which is of course, your computer. Other computers outside your LAN (Internet) don’t know about your computer’s internal IP address because they can only see the router’s external IP address.
This is where the port forwarding concept plays its role. It allows remote computers outside the LAN to connect to a specific computer inside a LAN (in this case your file server) via specific port numbers. To setup port forwarding, you need access to the router configuration screen. (optional: Read more on port forwarding ).
A router acts like a bridge that connects two different worlds, LAN and the Internet. Different brands of routers have a different interface to setup port forwarding. Check out the PortForwarding website in step 4 below for specific instructions on how to setup port forwarding for your router.
4- Jot down your router brand and model. Next, choose your router model from PortForwarding.com and follow the given instructions. Don’t worry; port forwarding is not rocket science – this port forwarding website has every little detail to accomplish port forwarding for almost any applications that you can think of, including HFS.
I am using Aztech’s DSL600ER router+modem so below are detailed steps to setup port forwarding at my side. Steps to setup port forwarding for your router will differ a bit. (Reference: setup port forwarding for Aztech DSL600ER + HFS )
5- Access the router interface by typing http://192.168.1.1 inside the browser Address Bar. Click on “Advanced“.
6- From the Advanced menu, select “Application -> Port Forwarding“. You will be taken to the port forwarding setup screen.
7- Make sure that your private IP address is selected from the LAN IP combo box. Next, select the User radio button from the Category section. Click on “New” to create a new port forwarding rule.
8- From the “Rule Management” interface, insert all the port information as shown in the image below. Click “Apply” and the rule will appear below the Rule Management setup field.
The rule above means that each time somebody access your router via the router’s public IP address at port 80, the router will map (or bring) the request to your computer’s internal, private IP address at port 80, so he or she can access the correct computer inside the LAN that acts as a file server.
9- Go back to the “Application -> Port Forwarding” page. Select the User radio button once more and you can see that the “HFS” rule is listed there. Select “HFS” from the list and click the “Add” button to copy the rule to the “Applied Rules” section. Click “Apply” to activate this port forwarding rule.
C- Access Your HFS File Server from Outside the LAN
10- You can ask a friend outside your local LAN to access your server by typing your router external IP address using a web browser. If nobody is around to help you, you can skip this step and proceed to step 11.
11- To test if your port forwarding setup works from inside your LAN, you need to use an anonymous proxy / anonymizer (read more ). In this case, the anonymous proxy acts as another computer that is trying to access your HFS file server from outside your LAN. Open your browser and access http://hidemyass.com OR http://youhide.com . Type in your router external IP address inside the text field as shown in the example below and press Enter to proceed.
If you can access the HFS file server page using either step 10 or 11, you have successfully setup port forwarding for HFS! Your file server is now accessible by other computers from all over the Internet! Don’t forget to share this IP address to anybody that you want to have access to your file server.
Limitations: You may realize that with this setup, everybody outside your LAN will be accessing your HFS file sharing server using an IP address. The problem is that if you turn off your router and start it again, the public IP address of your router will change to a new one .You will then have to share this new IP address with your friends all over again.
Next time, I will show you on how to solve the problem above. We will replace the public IP address with a cool, consistent website address / URL that is easy to remember. Stay tuned!